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Features to be Included in a Compare and Contrast Essay

April 27, 2015 - Posted to Writing

Content 25

Features to be Included in a Compare and Contrast Essay

When you write a compare-and-contrast essay, your job is to effectively describe the similarities and differences between two people, two objects, two events, or two ideas/philosophies. Then, once the similarities and differences have been defined and discussed, you can write your conclusion. Your conclusion can vary depending on the specific subjects that are being discussed. When you write essay works of this type, it is important that you include each essential feature, and that you spend enough time discussing and exploring each feature.

The Compare and Contrast Introduction

In the introductory paragraph, you will first present each subject that you will be exploring. For the sake of an example, let's assume that you are writing a compare-and-contrast essay on socialism and communism. In the introduction, you might tell the reader that both are political/economic philosophies, and that many people use the terms interchangeably. Then, you might also tell the readers that there are also significant differences between the two philosophies. Finally, in your thesis, you might state that socialism and communism are similar in that they both call for a centralized approach to government, however socialistic principles can be applied to a democratic society, while communism can only exist in an authoritarian society.

The Body of the Essay

You can approach the essay in a couple of different ways. You can address the similarities and differences separately, or you can mix them up. There are certainly merits to either approach. For instance, if there are similarities and differences that both fall under similar categories, you might want to address them together. For example, you might address how socialism and communism have failed in certain societies and how they have succeeded in others, both in the same paragraph. In contrast, you might address the emergence of socialism in countries in Western Europe in one paragraph, and then address the emergence of communist socialism in Eastern Europe in another paragraph.

If you elect to address similarities in one portion of your essay, and differences in another, you will still need to decide how you are going to sequence the body of your essay. You may want to consider which is more striking, the similarities or the differences. Using our example, if you reach the conclusion that the strongest similarity between the two political/economic philosophies is that both attempt to ensure that peoples’ needs of all are met, but also conclude that communism comes hand in hand with the use of violent force while socialism is largely peaceful, then you might want to end with the portion of your essay that explores the differences.

Another consideration is this; what is your conclusion going to be? You might want the final statements in the body of your essay to naturally lead into your conclusion statements. This might provide a more natural flow to your essay. In addition to this, your reader might find the essay easier to read.

The Conclusion

This is the last essay writing step. As you write your conclusion, you should ask yourself a few questions:

Are the similarities or the differences more compelling?

What are the potential impacts of exploiting the differences of the similarities?

How could knowledge of the similarities and/or differences increase understanding of both subjects?

Did your exploration of the differences and similarities change your point of view about the subjects?

Do people, in general, fail to discern differences or similarities between the two subjects?

What would you like the reader to conclude overall?

Selecting Compare and Contrast Topic Ideas

When you are selecting subjects to compare and contrast or developing the compare and contrast essay ideas, there are a few rules to remember.

Always select two subjects that are reasonably related. However, this doesn't mean that there cannot be significant differences between the two subjects. For example, it  might make more sense to write an essay on a tiger and shark, because both are carnivorous, predatory, and fast. On the other hand, it might not make sense to write your essay on a house cat and a tiger, because the only similarities are that both animals are    members of the same genus.

Make sure that you can think of at least a few differences and similarities in order to provide balance to your essay.

Pick subjects that are interesting, and that you have some knowledge about. This will make writing the essay more enjoyable and will save you time.

Finding Help

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